My sister turns forty today. I can hardly believe it. We were never supposed to be this old. And it can only mean that I'll be forty soon too, because that's how it's always been with the two of us. Learning to ride a bike, getting braces, going off to college... all my life, Laura led the way.

Of course it wasn't always a picnic having a big sister. I usually got the worst of our backseat battles on those long car trips out to Michigan. She liked to occupy the center, with a view, so I'd end up either crushed against the door or else lying on the car floor. And oh how she loved to squish my nose. She had me fairly well convinced that my nose was freakishly large and thus fully deserved to be squished. She used to call me Nozzle Sprots -- one among *many* such nicknames...

But I also remember a happier part of those family trips. At home, Laura and I each had our separate rooms, but when we were visiting our grandparents, the two of us slept in the spare beds in the basement. Every night after lights out, Laura would ask for stories -- and I would make them up for her. That was like my superpower back then. I would just start talking, without the least idea where the story was headed. And she would goad me on: "And then what happened? Then what happened?" I wonder if she remembers that...

Nowadays I only see her a couple times a year, and even then only for brief afternoon visits. She's a full-time mom, living in a beautiful suburban neighborhood, raising three adorable boys. And I'm crazy Uncle Pete, who writes musicals, and comes down from New York City once in a while to visit. We've turned out so differently. And yet she is my closest relation on earth. The nearest copy of my DNA. Where are the similarities?

I can see it in this picture. I think we share a certain sense of humor. In me, it comes out in a need to be funny; in her, it's an ability to find humor in everything around her. In that way, we always complemented each other. I can make her laugh. Even if she's more often laughing at me than with me, her laughter is so infectious that I can't help but join in. So like the song says, when I think of Laura, I laugh (don't cry...) I know she'd want it that way.

Happy Birthday, Laura!

Your Little Brother,

Musings Past